Balrog: Health 1050, Stun 1000
Balrog is regarded as having some of the best normals in the game. His 3 frame cr.LP alone causes problems for many characters trying to put pressure on him, not only interrupting them, but leading to devastating combos. The combination of quick, far-reaching normals and the speedy horizontal movement of his special attacks make him a punishment machine, able to make you lament any mistake. Being a “charge character”, players that use him learn to be patient and maintain a strong defense. This allows them to maintain a charge, wait for you to make a mistake, or sit on a life lead. His Turn Punch gives him a way out of zoning, along with some of his EX special moves gaining super armor properties. The dual nature of his playstyle, being able to rush down one second and extremely defensive the next, can be very hard to deal with if you don’t know what to look out for.
-Can punish many moves other characters might not be able to
-Execution isn’t very demanding beyond good timing
-Deals good damage
-Becomes very strong with the use of meter
-Excelent normals including anti-airs and jump ins
-Is comfortable playing offensively and defensively
-Slightly above average health
-Must have a charge stored to do special moves
-Wakeup options are limited
-Some specials can be grabbed
-Lacks a high damage combo to Ultra although it provides good postioning
Characters with a strong set of normals can be troublesome for Viper, and Balrog is no exception. The relatively slow startup of her normals and specials make her ripe for counter hits and frame traps. Being inside sweep range can be downright dangerous, and throwing out random special attacks will get you beat REAL quick, so it’s important to learn the tendencies of Balrog players, make good predictions, and make any kind of punish opportunity count. Cross-up heavy rushdown can be a useful style against Balrog due to his charge requirements, however it’s important to be aware of his wakeup options (limited though they are), and again, 3 frame cr.LP. There are ways to deal with his special attacks in terms of beating them out, that will help greatly in this matchup. Keep in mind that all of his dashing punch style special attacks have a minimum of 13 frames of a dash for the LP Dash Straight all the way up to 51 frames for the HP and EX Dash Swing Blow, so beating them relies heavily on timing your attacks vs. his. Being at point blank range with Balrog stops his dash and does the attack automatically so spacing is also an issue.
Dash Straight - Balrog’s simple dashing punch. LP Thunder Knuckles are great at stopping these, as they go under the hitbox. The only problem is that if you just throw out LP Thunder Knuckles all day, Balrog only has to delay his Dash Straight to catch you in your recovery. As with many of Balrog’s dashing moves, certain heights of Burning Kick will also beat them out. Some players that predict a Dash Straight will super jump straight up and do a Burning Kick, putting you at just the right height to catch Balrog out of it. Alternatively, as with many other character’s moves, a properly timed EX Seismic Hammer will allow the punch to go through you, and pop Balrog up in the air for whatever follow up move you choose. EX version of this move gains super armor, giving more incentive to use LP Thunder Knuckle as a solution to break the armor. A quick normal with good range can be used to hit Balrog out of it’s startup, giving you a counter hit, though this can be difficult at certain ranges and against quicker versions.
Dash Upper - Most of the same rules apply here, but it’s important to be aware that this is a very useful move for Balrog, because the EX version allows him to link afterward, continuing his combo and dealing large amounts of stun. Keep this in mind when he has meter. At certain ranges, this move is better at hitting Viper out of Burning Kick as well. If this move is crouched with Viper, it will whiff completely giving you a (very small) window of opportunity to attack him. The recovery IS there, but the move comes out very quick so it’s important to have quick reactions when punishing it.
Dash Low Straight - Besides being similar to the other dash punch moves in its start up, it differs from them by being a low attack, and having the most active frames (8f). The start up is slower which allows you to see it coming and block accordingly. It can still be difficult to block when under pressure however, so it might be a good idea to just block low by default, and react to the Dash Swing Blow which has even slower startup. The low hitbox on this move means it can be beaten by even regular LK Burning Kicks and overheads. All versions of this move EXCEPT EX are punishable by reversal U1 and reversal HP Emergency Combination.
Dash Swing Blow** - The slowest startup of all the dash punches, but must be blocked high. MP and HP versions are slightly punishable on block at -6 and -8, although it can be difficult to determine the strength of the move in the middle of a match. Both HP and EX version gives Balrog 10 frames of advantage on hit allowing him to link afterwards, so it’s very important to recognize this move and block it properly. Breaks armor.
Dash Low Smash - Similar to Dash Low Straight as far as frames go, but can be blocked high or low. Mostly used to move the opponent closer to the corner as it knocks down somewhat far away from Balrog. This move also breaks armor.
Buffalo Head - The closest thing Balrog has to a decent reversal, without having to rely on meter for super armor. LP version has 8 frames of startup so safejump away. After a blocked or whiffed headbutt you have the time to punish with anything and everything so hit him hard. FFF combos on his recovery will help immensely in this matchup as such a strong combo may give you the all-important life lead. Standing next to him as he wakes up and throwing a cr.LK will lower you enough to not get hit by any of the headbutts except the EX version. If you get hit with this move, there’s a good chance you’re going to get U1’ed so be especially careful when he has revenge meter. Each version has 11 active frames so trying to use EX Seismic Hammer against this move unless on his way down might not be a good idea at close range.
Turn Punch - This move can be dangerous for Viper, almost in the same way Viper’s EX Seismic Hammer can be dangerous for every other character. The invincibility frames can be used to avoid attacks and put the hurt on his opponent. Trying to zone with Seismic Hammers at full screen will almost certainly get Turn Punched but remember the charge time also determines the distance he travels. Use this knowledge to predict when you should feint your Seismic Hammer to bait out the Turn Punch. Wether or not Balrog can be punished for this move is heavily dependant on the level of charge and the distance at which you blocked it.
Good Balrogs know Viper’s main weaknesses and will exploit them to no end. It’s the Viper players job to downplay these weaknesses, while at the same time exposing Balrog for his. Staying out of his jab range (while also being aware of his sweep and focus range) is crucial as it can be abused, setting up frame traps, tick throws, or just keeping pressure. Know the proper spacing for Burning Kicks, as smart Balrogs will simply focus attack them, anti-air with cr.HP, or use any myriad of air-to-air normal. Use his need for a back charge against him by crossing him up often, and again, its VERY important to bait and punish Buffalo Head. when trying to anti-air Balrog with HP Thunder Knuckle it’s imperative to be ready to do a trade follow-up. Many of his aerial normals will trade with HP Thunder Knuckle, and it can be a good opportunity to get a little extra damage. The importance of grabbing during his dash punches can not be stressed enough. Again, take advantage of the dash time on most of his specials and fish for counter hits with good normals like cr.MK, but be careful of the super armor on EX moves.
The strongest advantage you have in this matchup is being able to put wakeup pressure on him, so try to make every knockdown count. Meaty hits will stop cr.LP mashers, safe-jumps will stop reversal Buffalo Head, EX dash punches can be grabbed, etc. His U1 is rarely seen outside of combos unless used to punish, and automatically sends you to the corner putting him in excellent postion to abuse his better normals. His most important ULTRA changes are basically the universal ones. Delayed wakeup gives him an opportunity to throw off his opponents oki game, and red focus allows the possibility for squeezing out more damage during a combo.
The perils of Balrogs normals… Notice the close range that PR Rog likes to keep.
Good solid play from Jayce here but PR Balrog knows this matchup very well.
This is what can happen when Viper makes a Balrog too scared to abuse his normals. Jebaily does well here, but gives Latif just a little too much respect. Also pay attention to the range Latif stays at.
An OS for headbutt though just punishing it may yield more damage.